Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'Degenerative Gameplay'.
I've noticed a lot of people really don't like the term "Degenerative Gameplay". I'm really not sure why. You may disagree with how Josh Sawyer uses the term "Degenerative Gameplay" (now DG) sometimes, especially when he's referring to a mechanic or system you don't like... but that doesn't mean the term is flawed. Far from it. DG is an incredibly useful term, because it describes (as I understand it) a situation in which the incentive structure of a game mechanic is flawed. DG, as I've seen it used, describes game mechanics that lead players to take actions that would be absurd or ridiculous within the context of the game world because of metagaming concerns. Rest-spamming is a classic example. A properly designed game reflects the in-universe incentives to the player as game incentives, leading them to act in such a way that the optimal course for the player is similar to or identical to the optimal course for the characters in the game world (if you were reading a story or something). DG occurs when a game mechanic is poorly designed, incentivizing the player to do something that would be absurd within the context of the game world or story. Such as stopping for an 8-hour nap every 5 minutes. Now, obviously you'll never be able to remove all sources of DG from a game as complex as this - but that should be the goal. And I think Josh Sawyer's goal of doing so is admirable. I think he's made some good steps. I also think he's made some missteps. And I think when talking about mechanics that aren't working, we should be careful to distinguish between DG and just mechanics we don't prefer. I'll give a few examples here of some disputed mechanics that are DG, and some that aren't: Disputed mechanics that are not a significant source of Degenerative Gameplay: - If the fighter tanks all the hits, I have to rest with him before all the other characters. This, while maybe not a mechanic everyone is fond of, isn't DG in and of itself. "But Matt," you may say... "when my fighter runs out of health and the rest of the party doesn't, I have to rest every 5 seconds. And that's DG!" Well... sort of. The fact that the current game mechanics encourage rest-spamming is DG - but the fact that this occurs because the fighter taking all the hits loses all his health before the characters who aren't taking hits is not DG - because that makes sense. If a party of adventurers wanders around, and has one guy doing all the close-range fighting and getting hit all the time, of course he will be more wounded than everyone else. So the fact of a tank taking all the hits and causing resting isn't in and of itself DG. The DG in that case (rest-spamming) results from a problem with the Health/Stamina system, which I'll (kind of) go into a little bit later. - Since armor slows you down, there's no point in putting armor on my ranged characters! This is another example of a mechanic that, while maybe poorly balanced atm, isn't actually DG. It makes sense that someone who wants to (for example) fire arrows as fast as possible wouldn't wear armor. Now, maybe there need to be more no-slowdown plain clothes in the game. Maybe the slowdown from armor that exists needs to be reduced. Maybe enemies need to be smarter and attack your ranged characters more often, causing you to have to make a tradeoff. Maybe all of these are true! But the simple fact that characters who want to attack as fast as possible shouldn't wear armor isn't in and of itself a source of DG. That actually makes sense within the game world. The AI issues that don't punish you for that may be though. Fortunately, we've already heard those will be improved. Disputed mechanics that are a significant source of Degenerative Gameplay i.e. bad design i.e. these need to be fixed: - When my fighter is taking a lot of hits, it makes more sense to let him fall than to heal him because of the Health/Stamina system. Oy... This is the biggest one IMO. It makes zero sense that it is a better tactical decision to let someone fall than to heal them. It just doesn't. Right now, the optimal decision for the player when a party member is taking lots of hits is to just let them fall unconscious, because healing them will only result in the loss of more health. The current mechanics incentivize just letting your characters fall unconscious because there is not any penalty for letting them fall. I.. just.... nope. Bad design. Fix it. Now, the fix doesn't need to come in the form of removing the Health/Stamina system. Remember that sources of DG are, at their core, from bad incentive structure. There needs to be an incentive to heal your party members instead of letting them fall. I have a few suggestions for possible solutions. I'll start with the ones that don't involve removing Health/Stamina (which I understand Josh is quite fond of), then move on to a few more radical suggestions: 1) Cause healing spells to heal a small amount of health as well - perhaps 1/6 or 1/8 as much as stamina. And only allow them to be used in combat (i.e. on "recent" wounds). This could make sense lore-wise (combat-only restriction means that only very recent wounds can be healed, which would fit with their lore reasons for no strategic healing) while allowing the player to use healing to somewhat alleviate the issue with frontliners losing all their health. Would also mean that healing is always a good thing - as it should be. 2) Have enemies attack downed characters, doing health damage vs reduced defenses. This would absolutely solve the problem, absolutely make sense (why does a wolf or beetle stop savaging you when you fall, exactly?), and absolutely be very punishing. This could be somewhat alleviated by making it a reduced ratio of health damage (definitely 1/4, maybe even 1/8), and would probably also be smart to only have non-intelligent enemies do this (as wild animals should keep attacking/eating, whereas smart enemies would realize they should move onto another threat). Even if only non-intelligent enemies did this, the DG problem would be fixed - after all, playing dead against a humanoid enemy would be a viable tactic in real life. Just not against everything. 3) Take a wound every time a character falls. minus-whatever to attributes until rest. Not a perfect solution, but it would resolve the incentive issues. 4) And finally (not gonna happen), remove health altogether and allow a certain number of falls before being maimed (dependent on class and talents). This would completely solve the incentive issues, making healing an altogether good thing (as it should be). That's all I've got on the healing DG problem. Josh, pls read. :3 - If I want to find hidden items, I have to walk around in scouting mode all the time. This is just dumb. Walking around in constant scouting mode with the game in fast motion is the optimal way to play right now. And that's stupid. Scouting needs to be overhauled (i.e. with some passive component) or removed. Structuring a game mechanic such that the optimal strategy is to do something absurd is the absolute definition of degenerative gameplay. That's all for now. Thanks for reading!